Was it really character assassination?
On Sunday, HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” featured an exposé on the coal industry. The segment covered President Trump’s pledge to bring back the industry after its decades-long decline due to environmental concerns and the booms in natural gas and renewable energy. It also focused on Murray Energy CEO Robert E. Murray and his company’s attempts to roll back regulations that protect its employees’ health and on a deadly disaster at one of its mines.
On Wednesday, Murray filed a lawsuit against Oliver, HBO, Time Warner, and the writers of “Last Week Tonight” for defamation. The defendants are accused of executing a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character of and reputation of Mr. Robert E. Murray and his companies.” Murray is suing for one count each of defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The plaintiff is also suing for damages, alleging that after the broadcast, Murray Energy’s website was hacked and Murray’s health was damaged. The lawsuit claims the episode further reduced Murray’s “already limited life expectancy due to his Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.”
After being hit with the suit, HBO released a statement saying: “We have confidence in the staff of ‘Last Week Tonight’ and do not believe anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray’s or Murray Energy’s rights.”